Preventing Dehydration in Dogs and Cats

By Ashley Watson

dehydration-in-dogs-and-catsKeeping your dog or cat hydrated during the summer really boils down to making sure your pet has access to plenty of clean drinking water. Just like humans, dogs and cats need water to help with important body functions, including digestion, waste removal, and for regulating body temperature.

Cleaning your pet’s water bowl daily and keeping an eye out for any signs of dehydration in dogs and cats are some of the most important factors. While some pets may not be particularly prone to drinking enough water, there are plenty of tricks for making sure that your dog or cat is getting enough water every day.

How Much Water Does My Dog or Cat Need?

Dogs may need more water than cats due to the fact that most breeds have a heavier body weight than cats. Your pet should get approximately one ounce of water per pound of weight on a daily basis. Pets need more water after playtime, when the weather is warm, or while taking certain medications that may cause dehydration in dogs and cats. Ask your vet about possible side effects for any medication prescribed for your pet.

dehydration-in-dogs-and-cats-2Some of the more common signs of dehydration in dogs and cats include lethargy, dry gums, constipation, and sunken eyes. If you think your dog or cat may be dehydrated, it’s important to take your pet to the veterinarian in case the pet needs an IV. Your vet can also perform an exam to pinpoint the cause of the problem.

Tips for Keeping Cats Hydrated

As a cat owner, you probably already know that cats are very picky about their water. They are sensitive to strong odors, so it’s important to wash their water bowl daily. Many cats prefer running water, and while it may not be practical to offer access to water running from a sink, you can purchase water fountains designed specifically for cats.

Here are some quick tips for making sure your cat is drinking enough water:

  • Clean water bowl daily
  • Offer running water
  • Feed them wet food
  • Keep water at room temperature
  • Try using bottled or filtered water
  • Use a stainless steel bowl
  • Keep water in the same place but offer multiple drinking areas
  • Try moving water bowl away from food

dehydration-in-dogs-and-cats-3Joel English, D.V.M. at River Cove Animal Hospital in Vermont also provided some tips on keeping pets hydrated. For cats, he suggested placing the water bowl away from your cat’s food and to offer multiple drinking areas. Dr. English also suggested offering bottled or filtered water as an alternative because some minerals in tap water can affect the taste.

Tips for Keeping Dogs Hydrated

Dogs also need a clean, decent-sized water bowl, or a bowl/bottle combination that keeps your dog’s water bowl full throughout the day. Keep in mind that drinking from the toilet can be harmful to your dog (or cat) because of bacteria and cleaning agents that may contain chemicals that can be toxic.

Here are some other tips for keeping dogs hydrated:

  • Clean water bowl daily with a scrub brush and dish soap.
  • Make sure your dog drinks before going outside to play
  • Take extra water and something to use as a water bowl when you go on a trip or outing
  • Place multiple water bowls throughout the house
  • Make sure your dog cannot knock over the water bowl and one that it is appropriately sized
  • Keep toilet lids down
  • Hose your dog down while playing outside on a hot day

Dr. English also provided some ways to prevent heat exhaustion, “With dogs it is best to save heavy exercise for the cooler parts of the day and try to exercise in or around water. The best way to avoid heat exhaustion is to allow access to water, and laying in cool water is the fastest way for dogs to cool down.”

Never leave your pet unattended in a car on a warm summer day. “Even a short period of time can be life threatening,” said Dr. English, “It sounds crazy, but we see this every summer.” Remember to use your veterinarian as a resource if you have questions about keeping your pet hydrated.

What tricks do you use to get your dog or cat to drink plenty of water? Share your success story on our Facebook page!